This is Mosaic Plagiarism

Amy Gamet’s Stranded with the SEAL is echoed in Rhonda Lee Carver’s SEAL by Fate.

Scroll down to see the side-by-side comparison of the books.

REVISED UPDATE: After taking SEAL by Fate down from Amazon on October 3, 2018, Rhonda Lee Carver republished the book two days later. It’s now down again; whether it was taken down by Ms. Carver or as a result of a copyright infringement claim filed with Amazon is unclear at this time.

Every book I write is forever associated with that period of my life in which I wrote it. Stranded with the SEAL, book one of the HERO Force series, took me a year to complete – not because it was so challenging, but because my belief in myself as an author was at an all-time low. I’d spent the previous year writing a three-book series that hadn’t sold well, and my income was down. Way down. It’s hard to write when you’re not making money. It messes with your head.

Stranded began a series that would be more successful than any of my previous books combined. It holds a special place in my heart, my own little phoenix risen from the ashes.

Stranded with the SEAL

Fast forward two years to September, 2018. I received an email from a reader alerting me to a newly published book eerily similar to mine – SEAL by Fate by Rhonda Lee Carver. I checked out the Look-Inside on Amazon and my blood pressure went up considerably. I bought the book and read it cover-to-cover.

What I found was that Ms. Carver had heavily infringed on my copyright, stealing considerable portions of the first three scenes of my book for her own. However, none of it is verbatim. She’d changed the words, as if by doing so she was actually writing something original and erasing her own culpability. It’s called mosaic plagiarism, and it’s a form of copyright infringement.

While Ms. Carver’s story veers away from mine and tells a very different tale than my own, the lawyer pointed out that plagiarism isn’t mitigated by the fact that they didn’t steal more. I’m grateful I formally filed for copyright protection, as it gives me far greater legal power than if I had not. I’ve submitted a copyright claim with Amazon to have SEAL by Fate taken down and am weighing my options for legal action against Ms. Carver.

After weeks of deliberation, I’m making this issue public. I take no joy in it. However, Ms. Carver has many books. Authors in the romance community need to be aware of this infringement so they can make sure they haven’t been infringed upon as well.

See the similarities between Stranded with the SEAL and SEAL by Fate for yourself. Words in brackets are my notes, all others are directly taken from the works in question. Be sure to click through to the next page, as there are approximately forty entries in all. For clarity’s sake, you should know the first scene is the heroine deciding to run away from her own wedding. The second is a car accident on a snowy mountaintop, and the third is the couple in a cabin after the accident. All of these examples are taken from those first three scenes.

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Stranded with the SEAL
By Amy Gamet
Published September 17, 2016
Copyright registration granted May 25, 2017, registration #TX0008436242
SEAL by Fate
By Rhonda Lee Carver
Published June 26, 2018
[Opening sentences:] A tall blonde woman with a clipboard stepped into the open doorway of the dressing room. “Three minutes, Miss Barrons.”[Opening sentences:] “Ten minutes, Miss West,” the tall brunette with a thick southern twang said from the doorway.
[Heroine is on the phone, trying to contact her sister.][Heroine is wondering where her sister is.]
[Heroine massages her sore arm, which is bruised where her fiancé hurt her.][Heroine massages her sore hand; wrist is bruised where her fiancé hurt her.]
It’s just a costume. It’s not the real thing. You’re not really marrying a monster.“He’s a monster.” [Quoting note from mystery source]
[Leaves message on sister’s voicemail] “Bella, it’s me. I need to see you. It’s really important,” she said, closing her eyes as she exhaled. “I’m…I’m scared. I need you to come out to Colorado. Please. I made you a reservation to fly into Denver Monday afternoon. I sent you an email with the details and…”[Leaves message on sister’s answering machine] Colette, where are you? I need to speak to you. I-I’m starting to get worried. I know you hate him, but I need to have you here. We’re family and you’re all I have.
[Fiance/villain is an import/exporter][Fiance/villain is an import/exporter]
[Fiance/villain sent his bodyguard/henchman to keep tabs on the heroine][Fiance/villain sent his bodyguard/henchman to keep tabs on the heroine]
It took considerable speed to climb Warsaw Mountain in six inches of unplowed snow, speed that threatened to overcome the traction of Trevor Hawkins’ tires at every turn.Making sure he didn’t let off the gas pedal of the Jeep, Grayson “Gray” Carlisle kept it straight as the large tires rolled at a stead speed through six inches of unplowed snow in the Wyoming mountains.
There’d been another set of tracks in the road, the only sign of humanity in this wilderness, and he imagined they were made by a park ranger or a county truck surveying the road conditions before closing this passageway down for the night.At first, he imagined he must have imagined the tracks ahead, but sure enough, someone else was just as foolish as he was out in this snow storm at nightfall. He sure hoped the other driver had a vehicle capable of staying on the road in these conditions, but from the narrow tire tracks and the way they veered erratically, he guess it was a small vehicle and an unsteady driver at the wheel.
Your average joe had no business driving on a twisting mountain road in these conditions.If a driver didn’t know the curvy road, they could easily drive off into the ravine.
Besides the snow on the ground, it was falling at an alarming rate he’d only witnessed once or twice in his life.It was coming down fast. Unlike anything he’s seen in a few years.
[Hero is a former Navy SEAL, retired, now working for the elite HERO Force.][Hero is a former Navy SEAL, retired, now working for the elite force Ghost Hawks]
He took his foot off the gas just enough to negotiate a sharp turn to the left, the right side of the road bordered only by a guardrail and a hundred-foot drop.So, he prepared for the sharp curve ahead by lifting his foot off the gas pedal and steering the Jeep into the center of the road… To his left was a jagged rock wall and to the other was a flimsy guardrail separating the road from a drop into the gorge
[Hero is eleven miles from the target on the mountain.][Hero is ten miles from the target on the mountain.]
[HERO Force stands for Hands-on Engagement and Reconnaissance Operations team. To the best of my knowledge, no other SEAL author refers to their team as a reconnaissance operations team.]The reconnaissance operations team put their lives on the line each day to bring down criminals like Phantom… [Ghost Hawks is not described as a reconnaissance operations team before this]
Through the snow, an image began to appear. Hawk squinted and eased up on the accelerator, then he saw it clearly. Sixty feet ahead, a red sports car was stopped in the road, a woman in a white coat standing with her back to him.
Hawk pressed hard on the brake, the muscles of his thighs going rigid, and the scene seemed to freeze. The haze of snowfall that had been blinding just moments before was now made of individual crystals.
Through the ice crystals he saw something ahead. He squinted, trying to make out what it was, and as he drew closer he realized a car was stuck in a snow drift… He saw a distorted silhouette through the thick snow, then the image of a woman dressed in all white materialized. Gray had no choice but to slam his foot onto the brake causing the wide tires to lock up, crunching the ice and sending the Jeep sliding across the snow-covered road…Through the ice crystals, he saw her turn to face the headlights that caught her shocked expression. It was amazing how clear things seemed in times of distress.
Your hatred brought you here.
If he hadn’t been so determined to get Steele…This woman would be alive.
He certainly didn’t want to hurt anyone because of his poor decisions.
It made it worse that she was pretty, worse that she was young. Worse still that the red car hinted at a spark in her personality. His eyes closed, his will no longer strong enough to keep them open. A guttural cry rose up from his chest just before the impact, the sound of crunching metal and breaking glass overtaking everything.He closed his eyes a second before impact. The crushing sound of metal and breaking glass shot through the quiet, jerking him forward as the seatbelt slammed into his body.
The force of the accident threw him hard against the airbag, pounding his face like solid wood, but it was her face he imagined, her injuries he worried about as his car crushed the space that had once been between them.The force of hitting rock deployed the air bag and it hit him in the head, similar to how the baseball bat had struck him when he was ten, giving him a concussion and leaving a cut on his cheek that had needed ten stitches
Forcing himself to move his shocked limbs, he pushed against the airbag and stood on shaking legs…He had to find her. Now… “Lady?” he yelled. His voice echoed back from tall pine trees…Racing to the other side, he was dumbfounded to see only virgin snow, untouched. Where the hell was she? …he raced around the back of the Jeep, searching all around just to make sure she wasn’t lying in the road, but he didn’t see her…Where the hell was she?
Standing up was like unbending metal. Hawk winced as he forced his knees to hold his weight again, realizing he must have sustained an injury in the accident and instantly pushing the thought aside. [injured in accident]Ignoring the resistance in his stiff knee… [injured in accident]
[heroine’s vehicle was described as a sportscar][heroine’s vehicle was described as a sportscar]
He nearly tripped over her, lying in the snow wearing her white coat.…he pushed himself up and looked over at what he’d tripped over. The woman! She was lying on her back and seemed to blend in with the drift of snow.
A trail of blood ran down one side of her face, and she was eerily still.Her eyes were closed and there was a smudge of blood on her forehead…
He prayed she was unconscious and not dead as he reached beneath her arms and began to pull her up the hill, with only a moment’s concern that he shouldn’t move her before help arrived.Any other time he wouldn’t move a victim for fear of hurting her worse, but if he left her in the snow, she might very well freeze to death.
She had a pulse, though it was weak and thready.Feeling her pulse, it was a little slow…
His big hand reached inside her coat, sliding along her slender neck.…he leaned over and slid his fingers along the woman’s slender neck, checking her pulse again…
They were alone on a deserted mountain in the middle of a snowstorm, with no cars, no phones, and no shelter.They were stranded in a snowstorm in the middle of a mountain at dark with no way to reach the outside world…
He would have to carry her here.
Without missing a beat, he turned back, his mind no longer in the Colorado mountains. He was back in BUD/S training, in Hell Week, the question of whether or not he could carry on long since forgotten.
Once a SEAL, always a SEAL. As long as his heart was beating, he would go back for the woman.
He would have to carry her, of course. Not a big deal, but the deep snow would make it more difficult…the ache in his head and legs throbbed, reminding him of boot camp when he’d been so exhausted he thought he’d keel over, but he’d kept going, even when he though it impossible at times.
“I don’t wanna be no Green Beret,” he sang to the rhythm of his footfalls. “They only PT once a day.” It was beginning to snow again, fat flakes catching in the wind. “I don’t wanna be no airborne ranger.” His breath was coming hard, the lining of his lungs burning fiercely from the cold.
He chanted louder. “I wanna live a life of danger.” In his head, he could hear his teammates chanting alongside him. “I don’t wanna be Marine Recon. I wanna stay till the job is done.” Ralph was by his side, the memory of his friend’s voice as clear as day to Hawk’s ears. “I wanna be a SEAL team member.” His teeth began to chatter, but he knew the road to the cabin was not much farther. “I wanna swim the deep blue sea.” Icy bits of freezing rain mixed in with the snow, pelting his face. “I wanna live a life of danger. Pick up your swim fins and run with me.”
Automatically Gray began to hum a familiar Navy Cadence, then sung, “I’m a steamroller, baby, just a rollin’ down the line, so you better get outta my way…” Singing had gotten him and his buddies through PT.
[Hero notices her engagement ring—heroine is a runaway bride. She’s dressed in a T-shirt that says Bride.][Hero notices her engagement ring—heroine is a runaway bride. She’s dressed in a wedding gown.]
Bending down once more, he picked her up and carried her to a couch…First things first. He had to call an ambulance. “I’m going to find the phone.”…he didn’t waste time examining the place as he normally would, but instead laid her on the couch…Switching to proactive mode, he made a haphazard list inside his head of what he needed to do first. [checks phone again for cell service]
The room was dominated by a large stone fireplace. Snowshoes hung on the wall, along with a winter scene that made Warsaw Mountain look far better than Hawk’s current experience with it.The rustic rock fireplace was the focal point of the room, covering an entire wall…Framed paintings of horses, wilderness, and wildlife dominated the walls.
Turning down a dark hallway, he found the thermostat set to forty-five and bumped it up to seventy…After further investigation, he found the thermostat that was reading at a whopping fifty degrees, so he switched on the heat.
Her pants were wet on her thighs, ice crystals forming in places. “Let’s get you out of these clothes.”She’d never get warm wearing wet clothing, so he set out to remove the cold, soaked coat.
He carefully slipped (the shirt) up and over her head, noting the fresh bruises on the left side of her body where she must have landed. The dark peaks of her nipples were visible in his peripheral vision, but he kept his eyes trained on his hands as he pulled the blanket up to cover her. “I’ll go see if I can find you some clothes.”Finally releasing the last button, he dragged the sleeves down her arms and sucked in a ragged breath. The dark tips of her nipples were visibly hard under the strapless lace bra. “Sorry. I’m not intentionally staring.”
He turned her wrist backwards, his eye catching another bruise, this one high on her arm and the size and color of a purple grape. The hair on the back of his neck went up and he frowned, lifting her arm and looking for the bruise’s telltale companions.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“I don’t think your wrist is broken,” he evaded.
There. Three matching grape bruises on the other side of her arm. The accident hadn’t caused them. Someone hurt her before he did, and the knowledge curdled in his stomach as his eyes went back to the rock on her wedding finger. Odds were good the man who’d given it to her was the same one who dug his fingers into the tender flesh of her arm.
Keeping his gaze focused, he examined her for bruising and found some fresh marks on her left shoulder where she must have landed in the snow, and more marks on her wrist…but the bruising appeared much darker, as if it was already in the healing process. He could make out what looked like the outline of two fingers.
She barely looked old enough for marriage.“Hell, are you even old enough to get hitched?”
His body twitched to life and he chastised himself for the thought. She was hurt, nearly frozen to death, and she needed his help. Only a pervert would get hard from that. Or a red-blooded man who hasn’t gotten laid in too long.He sucked in a breath, chastising his body for reacting like this. The woman relied on his to keep her safe, not admire how beautiful her body looked…He blamed his body’s response on the fact that he hadn’t gotten laid in far too long.
He pulled her tightly against his body and wrapped his arms around her. She was cold enough that she seemed to suck out the little warmth he had left in his own body, like he was lying in bed with a popsicle. He rubbed her arms and slipped her leg between his own, willing the heat from his body into hers.Wrapping his arm around her waist, he pulled her into the spoon of his body…She was cold to the touch, and he hoped his warmth, their combined warmth, would raise her temperature. He pressed his feet against hers and he jerked. This was much like snuggling an icicle.

Leave a Comment:

16 comments
Caitlyn O'Leary says October 3, 2018

Amy, I’m so sorry this happened to you. I appreciate how you put this together, your examples were easy to comprehend.

I found this definition of Mosaic Plagiarism from the ‘City University of New York’, which exactly describes your examples above:

Mosaic plagiarism occurs when a student borrows phrases from a source without using quotation marks, or finds synonyms for the author’s language while keeping to the same general language structure and meaning as found in the original.

Sometimes called “path writing,” this kind of plagiarism, whether intentional or not, is academically dishonest and punishable. Even if you footnote your source.

Based on that, I agree with the fact that your book was plagiarized. Again, I’m sorry that this happened.

– Caitlyn

Reply
Alisha says October 3, 2018

At least I know now I wasn’t crazy when I read the other and thought I had read this before.

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Samantha A. Cole says October 3, 2018

I saw the review that a reader left on the other author’s book and was curious enough to compare the two samples side by side. I completely agreed with the reviewer (and you) that what I read in SEAL of Fate was a rewrite of your book. So sorry this happened to you and wish there was something more you could do to protect your work.

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April Randolph says October 3, 2018

Amy! I am so proud of you for sharing this and sorry that this happened to you. I read this book and am astonished at the gall of this person.Thank you for speaking out and warning others. As always, you are a light!

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Gavyte says October 4, 2018

I’m sorry this happened to you, there is a precedent case that author Rachel Ann Nunes won this year in court. Maybe you should try to get in touch with her, or at least, read her experiences in her blog.

https://rachelannnunes.com/nunes-vs-rushton-copyright-infringement-case-is-finally-over/

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Kristan Higgins says October 4, 2018

Have you contacted RWA? They have an Ethics Committee that looks into issues like yours.

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    Amy Gamet says October 4, 2018

    Yes, I contacted them before I posted this. She’s no longer a member, so they couldn’t do anything, unfortunately.

    Reply
Tonette Joyce says October 6, 2018

That is outrageous; and she bragged about it to you? Go get her! I wish you the best of luck.

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    Amy Gamet says October 14, 2018

    Thanks, Tonette. She didn’t brag to me, though she denied even having heard of my series. According to her, it’s all one big coincidence… Not.

    Reply
Nicki Greenwood says October 7, 2018

Good luck pursuing this, Amy. I will keep my fingers crossed for fast restitution. Was her copied book trad published, or indie? I would certainly now worry about the authenticity of her other books after this.

Reply
    Amy Gamet says October 14, 2018

    Sorry, just saw this! The copied book was indie, though she’s written for Kensington in the past. And yes, I wonder how much of her material is original.

    Reply
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